Content Marketing & SEO: Two Sides Of The Same Coin

By Fraser Gillies Published: 30 September, 2020 Last updated: February 18th, 2022 at 3:53 pm

coin on top of can

There’s often a misconception that SEO and content marketing are at odds with one another. I’ve heard from both marketeers and SEOs that it’s normal for one, in part, to be sacrificed for the other. 

And I get it. The well-established marketing truism that content that’s clear, original and evocative always engages an audience – yet content that isn’t created around search behavior is rarely found – still holds today. This truism, however, is a red herring. 

The reality is that content marketing and SEO should be seen as kindred spirits rather than opposing forces. A healthy balance of both is your business’ best chance at growing organically, putting your digital footprint in the right place, and increasing qualified sales leads. 

In the spirit of this, I’ve taken a closer look at how content marketing and SEO combine to be at their most effective. 

‘Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first’

Like accruing wealth or knowledge, digitally marketing your business is most challenging when you’re going from zero to one. Content marketer and designer Wendy Piersall’s words attest to this: 

Your audience can’t find your digital content unless Google ranks it well. Yet, until your audience shows love for your content through backlinks, engagement and shares, Google has no reason to rank your content at all. This catch 22 frustrates the hell out of business newcomers trying to get their digital feet off the ground.

Wendy’s words don’t indicate, however, that everything’s lost for new companies looking to make a splash online. She’s actually one sentence away from highlighting marketeers’ most effective antidote to digital solitude – a well-formed content marketing and SEO campaign that leverages both symbiotically. 

Where SEO & content marketing collides and thrives

Think of SEO and content marketing as two halves of your brain:

SEO is your logical half. It’s most comfortable when operating in the objective, with a focus on solving technical problems. This explains why it’s so effective at honing your website’s content so that it’s seen by the right audience. 

Content marketing, on the other hand, is your emotional and creative half. It appeals to your ability to relate to others – to inspire, to entertain, and to educate. Ultimately, it drives user experience on your website, and can be the difference between conversion and exit. 

So, where do these two collide?

On the page, of course.

Creating quality content that adds value to your target audience should never be compromised. 

The best way of creating content that’s valuable to a particular type of person is around the queries they type into Google. This way, you guarantee your content is always orientated around what your ideal buyer or website user is looking for. It’s at this point content marketing and SEO marry together harmoniously. 

For these reasons, it blows my mind whenever I see SEO titles on Google search pages: 

google search content marketing vs seo

There should be nothing ‘vs.about content marketing and SEO. They’re a team, not rivals. Also, if you’re asking ‘Which One is More Important’ or ‘Which Is Better’, you’ve really missed the mark about the purpose of these two disciplines.

The case for SEO being content marketing

I’ve been going on about how SEO and content marketing are interdependent concepts and rely on each other to get the best returns. I’d like to take this a step further by stating that perhaps, SEO is content marketing. Many of us see SEO and content marketing as different means to the same end. 

Let me try to dispel this: 

  • Content is created to support marketing goals. 
  • When produced effectively, content is created with the optimal chance of being found on search. 
  • SEO, unlike the name suggests, is this practice. You don’t optimize content for a search engine, you optimize your digital content. 
  • Maybe content marketing and SEO is a muddled phrase. Perhaps we should think of this as content optimization instead.
  • Content optimization, for all intents and purposes, is synonymous with SEO.

Heads or tails?

Content marketing & SEO isn’t a coin toss. 

It’s something that needs to be done in tandem to achieve the best results from a marketing campaign. People will tell you they’re of equal importance but it’s actually a step further than this. They coexist in the same space of digital marketing. There’s no trade off to be had. No neglecting one for the other. Because without one, there is no other. 

Start thinking of content marketing and SEO as one of the same. You’ll find that your marketing actions and results begin making a whole lot more sense.


Fraser Gillies

Fraser has been working in the digital communications space for four years. Currently the Head of Revenue at Publicize, he is leading a team of talented content creators to build powerful tech narratives that engage, educate and entertain audiences.